Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this delicious fried fish recipe: the fillets fry up fully cooked on the inside, with a gorgeous golden exterior. Haddock and cod are two wonderful choices for our fried fish dish, but other species such as tilapia, pollock, catfish, bass, trout, or perch will also produce a delicious dinner. This 30-minute dish is ideal for a hectic weekday or as a weekend lunch with a salad and a few dipping sauces like basic tartar, Louisiana rémoulade, or chipotle mayonnaise.
The secret to flawless fried fish is in the frying oil and temperature, as well as the coating used on the fish. Canola, maize, safflower, peanut, avocado, or grapeseed oil have high smoking points and should be used instead of olive oil or butter, which will burn at the temperatures necessary for frying. Don’t omit the flour coating since it adds a great crunchy texture, stops the fish from absorbing too much oil, and keeps the fillet together. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for the greatest results since it spreads heat evenly.
Because fish is a more tender protein, if your fillets are especially thin, keep a tight watch on the skillet when frying them. Add extra oil as needed and bring to temperature before adding more fillets if cooking in batches. Before you begin, blot the fish fillets dry with a paper towel.
Easy Fried Fish Fillets
Gather the ingredients.
In a shallow bowl or deep plate, combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper and mix well.
Dip 1 or 2 fish fillets into the flour mixture. Make sure they are completely coated on all sides and gently shake off any excess. Repeat the process with the remaining fillets.
Pour oil into a skillet and heat over medium-high heat to 375 F.
Working in batches, fry the fish in the hot oil for about 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through. Remove and set on a cooling rack to let drain.
Serve hot with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, or homemade rémoulade sauce, if desired. Enjoy.
Tips for the Crispiest Fish
Try these tested tips to get your fish crispy every time:
- Always pat dry your fish fillets using paper towels to ensure the flour coating sticks well and there are no soggy parts.
- Once the fish is in the pan, never cover it, as you'll end up steaming it and the coating might fall off, leaving behind a greasy fish fillet.
- Keep the oil temperature steady. A thermometer is a great tool to have at hand, especially if you're fond of fried food.
- Don't move the fish in the pan but allow it to fry and release from the pan naturally.
Additions for a Flavorful Crust
Make a flavorful crust by adding dry herbs and spices:
- Add to the flour a few dashes of Old Bay, Cajun, or Creole seasoning, or Mrs. Dash if you're watching your salt intake.
- Add to the flour 1/4 teaspoon each of dried and ground thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory, dill, cilantro, and parsley.